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Editorial Issue 33

by Sandra Goodman PhD(more info)

listed in editorial, originally published in issue 33 - October 1998

Cancer survival statistics make for sober reading, especially these days when the media are always ready to announce "breakthroughs" or "miracle cures". Most intelligent people who don't happen to be cancer epidemiologists would get the optimistic impression that cancer detection and cure rates are increasing and that mortality is decreasing.

Nothing could be farther from the truth, as is presented in this issue's specially extended Breast Cancer feature. The honest truth, judging from cancer incidence and mortality rates, is that there is nothing miraculous happening about cancer today. The mortality rate is depressingly high for many common cancers, such as lung, pancreatic and colon cancers.

Breast cancer, which is diagnosed in more than 30,000 British women each year, kills more than 10,000 annually. And although the relative five-year survival rate is over 68%, this average figure masks the truly stark disparity between the five-year survival rate of women with localised Stage I (90%) – and those with metastasised Stage IV (24%) – breast cancer.

Where do you stand on the survival belief divide? Do you believe, as many in the holistic field do, that your attitudes, beliefs, and emotional baggage play a role in getting cancer and surviving? Or do you feel, as many in the environmental campaign groups do, that cancer incidence is rising dramatically due to environmental causes – toxins and carcinogens in our food, atmosphere and water coupled with a decline in soil nutrients and general nutrition? Or do you subscribe to both beliefs, feeling that you can influence your chances of getting cancer and/or surviving it by modifying your attitudes and lifestyle, but also recognising that until the environmental causes are identified and eliminated, that more of us will be getting and dying from cancer.

This survival belief divide is not some abstract, trivial notion, but offers a profoundly honest way of asking yourself what you would/will do if/when you are diagnosed with cancer. There are undoubtedly some among you who would not permit such a negative thought to cross your mind, while the more pragmatic/pessimistic among you would prefer to at least map out your strategy prior to your cancer diagnosis.

As many of you will know, I don't subscribe to the notion that cancer is caused by our beliefs or negative emotions. There are far too many of us getting cancer to attribute cancer to attitude. I acknowledge the research which demonstrates that attitude and spirit appears to affect survival; however, I have personally known many women with shining spirits who have fought their cancer with such determination I didn't think possible, but who have died nonetheless. And others who have managed to survive by following the standard medical protocols.

My most informed opinion regarding cancer survival at present is that it is an unknowable lottery, dependent upon the stage when the cancer is diagnosed, the location of the cancer, the type of tumour, the aggressive nature or otherwise of the cancer, the excellence or otherwise of treatment carried out and the individual characteristics, personality and lifestyle strategy of the person following their diagnosis of cancer.

Julie, whose heart-rending story is chronicled (pages 18-21) died all-too-young, despite lashings of positive attitude, spiritual, dietary and lifestyle efforts and appropriate medical treatment. Sue Pembrey and Anne-Marie Schuller have both gone through similar journeys and are here to tell the tale.

I for one agree heartily with Jonathan Chamberlain, whose wife died of breast cancer, and who has written a book (Fighting Cancer see page 6), advising all of us to plan our cancer treatment campaign before we get cancer, when we have the luxury of time and don't have to make life-and-death decisions in a hurry. But I also feel strongly that we all have to campaign as strongly as we can to determine, identify and then eradicate the environmental causes of cancer. We owe it to all our loved ones who have died before their time.


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About Sandra Goodman PhD

Sandra Goodman PhD, Co-founder and Editor of Positive Health, trained as a Molecular Biology scientist in Agricultural Biotechnology in Canada and the US, focusing upon health issues since the 1980s in the UK. Author of 4 books, including Nutrition and Cancer: State-of-the-Art, Vitamin C – The Master Nutrient, Germanium: The Health and Life Enhancer and numerous articles, Dr Goodman was the lead author of the Consensus Document Nutritional and LifeStyle Guidelines for People with Cancer and compiled the Cancer and Nutrition Database for the Bristol Cancer Help Centre in 1993. Dr Goodman is passionate about making available to all people, particularly those with cancer, clinical expertise in Nutrition and Complementary Therapies. Dr Goodman was recently featured as Doctor of the Fortnight in ThinkWellness360.

Dr Goodman and long-term partner Mike Howell seek individuals with vision, resources, and organization to continue and expand the Positive Health PH Online legacy beyond the first 30 years, with facilities for training, to fund alternative cancer research, and promote holistic organizations internationally. Read about Dr Goodman and purchase Nutrition and Cancer: State-of-the-Art.  She may be contacted privately for Research, Lectures and Editorial services via:   and

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